Well, let’s see. Last week, there was “no evidence” that President Bush asked his former counterterrorism chief, Richard Clarke, to find out if Iraq played a role in 9/11. This week, the White House agrees it happened (free New York Times site registration may be required). I wonder what changed?
Last week, members of the bipartisan 9/11 commission were angry that Bush’s national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, had so far refused to appear under oath and in public before them. This week, they’re foaming. Rice "has appeared everywhere except my local Starbucks," Richard Ben-Veniste, a Democratic member of the commission, said in an interview. "For the White House to continue to refuse to make her available simply does not make sense."
John Lehman, a Republican who was Ronald Reagan’s secretary of the Navy, said it was serious miscalculation for Rice to refuse to testify because she “has nothing to hide” but is creating the impression she does. “… There are no smoking guns. That’s what makes this so absurd. It’s a political blunder of the first order.”
Last week, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist was raging about how Clarke told “entirely different stories” under oath – one in public last week to the 9/11 commission, and one before a congressional joint enquiry.
This week, Clarke is saying, by all means declassify and release my testimony – but all six hours of it, and all the e-mails I sent, not just the bits the administration might want to cherry-pick.
"The White House is selectively now finding my e-mails, which I would have assumed were covered by some privacy regulations, and selectively leaking them to the press,” Clarke said. "Let's take all of my e-mails and all of the memos that I sent to the national security adviser and her deputy from January 20th to September 11th, and let's declassify all of it."
And maybe they will. But if they do, won’t they be breaking the same “principle” that supposedly keeps Rice from testifying?
Oh, yeah. Then the veep weighs in.
“I don't know the guy [Clarke] that well. I have had some dealings with him over the years, but judging based on what I've seen, I don't hold him in high regard.”
-- Vice President Dick Cheney in Time
It’s mutual, I’m sure.